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Francesco Berni, 1498-1535

The deuce, a roast of scraggy quails, a bit
Of salted pork to cram down a dry throat;
To be dead tired and find nowhere to sit;
To have the fire near by, the wine remote;
To pay cash down but to be paid at leisure;
To be compelled to grant a profitless boon;
Not to see aught when you've gone out on pleasure;
To stew in January as you did in June:

To have a pebble lurking in your boot;
To feel a flea a-running round about
Your stirrup-leg, inside your sock; to know
One hand is clean and one as black as soot,
One foot is with a shoe and one without;
To be kept waiting when you're wild to go;

Add to all this what tries you most in life,
Vexation, care, grief, every sort of strife,
You'll find that far away the worst's a wife.

Giovanni Guidiccioni, 1500-1541

Othou most worthy mother of the great
Who in more fortunate days possessed the earth,
Alas, how tearful now, how desolate,
Who wast before the Gods' fond haven of mirth!
How can I bear to hear the piteous sound
Of thy complaints, to see the mighty sway
Of thy vast empire humbled to the ground,
Thy pomp and virtues marred, without dismay?
But, though enslaved, such majesty dost wear,
And in my heart so sweetly rings thy name,
Adoringly to thy poor spoils I bow;
What then of him who saw thee in thy fame,
Proud, honoured queen, with golden crown set fair
Upon thy ancient and all-glorious brow?

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Benedetto Cariteo, 1450-1514

Voi, donna, ed io per segni manifesti andremo insieme a l' infernal tormento, voi per orgoglio, io per troppo ardimento, che vaneggiare osai cose celesti. Ma, perchè gli occhi miei vi son molesti, voi più martiri avrete, io più contento, ch' altra, che veder voi, gloria non sento, talch' un sol lieto sia fra tanti mesti.

Ch' essendo voi presente a gli occhi miei, vedrò nel mezzo inferno un paradiso, che in pregio non minor che il cielo avrei. E, se dal vostro sol non son diviso, non potran darmi pena i spirti rei; chi mi vuol tormentar mi chiuda il viso.

Giovanni Della Casa, 1503-1556

O Sonno, o della quieta, umida, ombrosa notte placido figlio; o de' mortali egri conforto, oblio dolce de' mal i sì gravi, ond' è la vita aspra e noiosa; soccorri al core omai, che langue e posa non have; e queste membra stanche e frali solleva: a me ten vola, o sonno, e l'ah tue brune sovra me distendi e posa!

Ov' è 'l silenzio, che 'l di fugge e 'l lume? e i lievi sogni, che con non secure vestigia di seguirti han per costume? lasso! chè 'nvan te chiamo, e queste oscure e gelide ombre invan lusingo. O piume d'asprezze colme! o notti acerbe e dure!

Benedetto Cariteo, 1450-1514

Lady, 'tis clear that you and I will be
Cast to infernal torments, you through pride,
I through too great presumption found in me
Whose ardent dreams sought a celestial bride!
But when my eyes assail you without tire,
You will be more aggrieved, I well content,
No glory save your presence I desire,
Thus one glad heart where myriads lament!

If you be visible unto my eyes
In mid inferno, lo, a paradise
Will open, dear as Heaven to my sight;
And if I be not parted from thy light
No guilty spirits will disturb my mind;
Who would torment me need but make me blind!

Giovanni Della Casa, 1503-1556

O Sleep, of the quiet night of dusk and dew
The placid son, O thou who dost relieve
Man's bitter load of suffering and endue
With merciful oblivion those who grieve,
Rescue this heart that faints yet cannot rest,
Uplift these frail, out-wearied limbs! O Sleep,
Spread wide thy sombre pinions o'er this breast,
And for a little while thy vigil keep!

Where is the silence that puts day to flight?
Where the soft dreams that used to follow thee
With faltering footsteps? O unhappy plight!
In vain, in vain I call, in vain to me
Would lure these dim and gelid shades; O bed
Of misery, O cruel nights and dread!

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Luigi Tansillo, 1510-1568

Mor m'impenna l'ale, e tanto in alto

AI

Je spiega l' animoso mio pensiero, che, d'ora in ora sormontando, spero a le porte del cielo far novo assalto. Temo, qualor giù guardo, il vol troppo alto, ond' ei mi grida, e mi promette altero che se dal nobil corso io cado e pero, l'onor sia eterno, se mortale il salto.

Chè s'altri, cui disio simil compunse, diè nome eterno al mar col suo morire, ove I' ardite penne il sol disgiunse, il mondo ancor potrà di te ben dire: "Questi aspirò a le stelle, e, s'ei non giunse, la vita venne men, non già l'ardire."

Poi che spiegat' ho l'ale al bel desio, quanto più sotto 'l piè l'aria mi scorgo, più le superbe penne al vento porgo, e spregio il mondo e verso 'l ciel m'invio. Nit del figliuol di Dedalo il fin rio fa che giù pieghi, anzi più risorgo: ch' io cadrò morto a terra, ben m' accorgo; ma qual vita pareggia al morir mio?

La voce del mio cor per l'aria sento: "Ove mi porti, temerario? china chè raro è senza duol troppo ardimento." "Non temer," rispond' io, " l'alta mina, fendi sicur le nubi, e muor' contento, se 'l ciel sì illustre morte ne destina!"

Luigi Tansillo, 1510-1568

Love feathereth my wings, and bold desire
Spreadeth them for such lofty flight that I,
For ever soaring, hour by hour aspire
To assail the very portals of the sky.
When I look down afraid through boundless space,
He speaketh, proudly promising so be
I fall and perish in such noble race,
Death's leap will be my immortality.

Whence, as of one who ardently desired,
And, dying, gave the sea his lasting name
Where the sun melted his brave wings apart,
The world might say of me: "He too aspired
Unto the stars, and if he fell the blame
Is life's, this failed, but not his daring heart!"

When I have spread my wings to sweet desire,
As 'neath me ever vaster space I spy,
Proudly I cleave the air and raise me higher,
And scorn the earth and yearn towards the sky.
Nor am I daunted by the cruel death
Of young Icarus, nay, I do but dare
The more, and though down-hurled, bereft of breath,
What life could with this death of mine compare?

I hear how on the breeze my heart doth call:
"Whither away, O reckless one? Descend,
Oft too great daring hath a bitter end!"
Whereon I answer: "Fear not the dire fall,
Go, rend the clouds, then die contentedly
If with such glorious death Heaven favour thee!"

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